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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Flashpoints; War in Iraq; Immigration Battle; Israel Lebanon War; Global Terror; Looming Threats; Shift in Power; Gerald Ford Dies
Aired December 26, 2006 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: An explosive 2006. When flashpoints lit up the globe.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The situation in Iraq is grave and deteriorating.
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ANNOUNCER: The border.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's all we want, comprehensive immigration reform.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: More have been killed, more destruction and more aggression against the civilians in Lebanon.
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REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), CA: The campaign is over. Democrats are ready to lead.
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ANNOUNCER: Global terror.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This was intended to be mass murder on an unimaginable scale.
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ANNOUNCER: Tonight, how the flashpoints of 2006 will shape your 2007. From New York, Tom Foreman.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN ANCHOR: There an old saying, no matter where you go or what you do, there you are. And here we are at the changing of the years, facing a question, where are we headed in regard to all of these flashpoints? And what better place to begin our look at the year past and the one ahead than the hottest flashpoint of all.
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GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm the decider. I'm the decider. And I decide what is best.
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FOREMAN: Decisions in Iraq were shaped by flashpoints all year long. Soaring fatalities among coalition troops and Iraqis, too. Relentless fighting with and between insurgents, and plummeting American support for the war.
Yes, Saddam Hussein was convicted. And yes, other enemies were killed. But in too many ways the war enters 2007 as a grinding, crushing, strain on American unity.
As the tax on U.S. troops have increased, even the generals have worried.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The violence is indeed disheartening.
DONALD RUMSFELD, FORMER SECRETAR OF DEFENSE: Something important isn't easy, and this isn't easy.
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FOREMAN: Donald Rumsfeld is out of the Pentagon. A new man with a new view is in.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Gates, do you believe that we are currently winning in Iraq?
ROBERT GATES, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: No, sir.
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FOREMAN: But there is still no agreement between Democrats and Republicans on how to proceed. Pull out? Stay put? Redeploy? The map forward in Iraq is a mess.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We believe that the situation in Iraq today is very, very serious. We do not know if it can be turned around.
BUSH: They think it is just a matter of time before America grows weary and leaves, abandons the people of Iraq, for example. And that's not going to happen.
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FOREMAN: Iraq, the first of several flashpoints around the world and close to home we are going to wade through here. And to help us make sense of it all, we are joined by a terrific panel of guests. Reza Aslan, a Middle East analyst and author of "No God but God: The Origins, Evolution and Future of Islam." Arianna Huffington, the influential commentator behind "The Huffington Post," a news and opinion Web site. Wade Davis, a "National Geographic" explorer-in- residence, an anthropologist who studies the world's cultures. And from "Comedy Central," HBO and the movies, Comedian and Political Commentator Lewis Black.
Let's go right to the map and take a look at Iraq right now. We have about 140,000 U.S. troops there roughly. They're spread around the country, but really focusing very hard on controlling Baghdad in the middle. Who is really controlling things?
Well, over in the western part of the country, we have an awful lot of the Sunnis. The Shia to the south and the Kurds up to the north and deep ethnic divides that have been there for a long time between all of them.
Reza, is this the war we signed on for?
REZA ASLAN, MIDDLE EAST ANALYST: No, it's not the war that we signed on for, but it's the war that we've created.
Make no mistake, there's this conception now, you're hearing this narrative over and over again that the Iraq war, that the mess that's here, it's because the Iraqis themselves can't figure out a way to get along. That somehow this is their fault.
It's not their fault. We, by not providing the security that was necessary, allowed a civil war to erupt. It's our responsibility to do something about it.
FOREMAN: Do you buy that, Arianna?
ARIANNA HUFFINGTON, "THE HUFFINGTON POST": Well, no, I don't buy it's our responsibility in the sense that we can actually do something about it. Because after all, Iraq is made to choose to have a democratic government that works. We cannot impose a democratic government on them. And that is a key distinction.
In fact, many military analysts on the ground keep telling us that we are making things worse by being seen as the occupier. We are actually exacerbating a lot of the conflicts going on. And we need to redeploy our forces as fast as possible. There are many in this country who have been arguing for that for over a year now. And it's amazing how slowly we are moving ahead towards the right solution. FOREMAN: Lewis, you said a lot to this. Did you have any idea this is where we would be?
LEWIS BLACK, COMEDIAN: Well, I had a feeling it would end up -- it was -- I always described it as if you had in essence a hornet's nest, would you go up in the backyard and take a hammer and hit the nest? And essentially, that's what we have done.
And also -- who knew that you -- that someone would listen to somebody who came up with the reverse domino theory? That somehow, you know, in Vietnam, boy, you know, if Vietnam becomes communists, the whole place would be communist, that somehow these guys become democratic, that everybody says, whew, boy, I love that democracy thing.
FOREMAN: Here's a question, though, are we even looking at the right map here? We look at the border of Iraq, but look at the bigger picture here. If you expand the Sunni area, it's immense. Shia, way over here into Iran. The Kurds talk about a lot of area and live in a lot of area up there.
Wade Davis, this is exactly what you study. Does culture trump country here? And do we have to think about it?
WADE DAVIS, "NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC" EXPLORER-IN-RESIDENCE: We absolutely have to think about it. You know, we're talking about a billion Islamic people in the world from a myriad of different cultures, from many different backgrounds who speak different languages. And it shows us we can't begin to understand anything if we demonize the entire Islamic world.
FOREMAN: This is definitely what you study, Reza, right? The fact that it's almost like any large group. You call them all one thing. You call all Christians one thing. That's a big label for a lot of people, same for Muslims.
ASLAN: In fact I'd say -- I'd say it's much more so the case for Islam. Islam is by far the most diverse religion in the history of the world, which is funny because we tend to think of it in the West as some kind of monolithic religion and monolithic culture. We even refer to this clash of civilizations between Islam in the West as though Islam is a civilization somehow.
But I think that has a lot to do with the sort of the ignorance that is involved in not just the general public, but in those who are supposed to be making these important decisions.
FOREMAN: Usually, they're -- there are Muslims here in the Sunni territory who would really have virtually nothing in common with some Muslims from Indonesia...
HUFFINGTON: But Tom, the most tragic unintended consequence of the war in Iraq has been that it has driven so many moderate Muslims, so many moderate Arabs into the ranks of the extremists. And that we have lost the war on hearts and minds, which after all is essentially we're going to win the war on terror.
And if you are going to expand the map to include America, you see how much less secure we are as a result of our involvement in Iraq in every way.
DAVIS: And the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) that this war has been prosecuted is just astonishing. I mean, you think of Bremer's coalition authority, fully 65 percent of the Americans that went over, supposedly to solve the problem in Iraq, were getting passports for the very first time in order to take on that duty. That's astonishing.
We have an embassy there where we only have three or four fluent speakers -- native speakers of Arabic. How do we begin to understand a country with a 4,000-year history, not Iraq itself, but the region by sending over people who have no understanding of the world outside American borders?
FOREMAN: Lewis, how do we make it better in 2007?
BLACK: Boy, if I had the answer to that, I wouldn't be doing what I do for a living. I'd be a consultant. I'd be working for Halliburton.
BLACK: I'd be telling you just how to clean this mess up.
FOREMAN: Do you have a general sense that it could get better?
BLACK: I have no sense of that until -- until we really step up...
HUFFINGTON: Well, you know, the only way that it can get better is to stop pretending that it is going well. To stop lying to the American people, and to start telling the truth. It cannot get better if we ignore reality the way this administration insists on ignoring reality. That's the first step. And the second step is recognizing that we are not making things better by continuing to be there.
FOREMAN: Reza, what would wrong with saying, if there are natural divides here -- and I know they're not perfect. But if there are natural culture divides, let's let it exist this way. Why are we fighting to hold Iraq together if it doesn't want to be together?
ASLAN: Because Iraq is not so cleanly divided as we like to pretend that it is. Yes, it's true that there is this solidifying of the sectarian identities taking place. But that's not because people are becoming more Shia or more Sunni or more Kurdish. It's because in a society in which there is absolutely no hope of any kind of security whatsoever from either the army or the police force, the only hope in staying alive is to link up with your sect, if not with your sectarian militia. FOREMAN: You understand very much I am sure through your studies many of the mindsets we're dealing with here. What would make it better?
ASLAN: What would make it better is security. Arianna said something very important when she was talking about, you know, Iraq as this experiment in democracy. Democracy has a purpose, and that is to bring about the rule of law. If there is no rule of law, then there is no democracy. So let's stop talking about it as thought it's actually something that exists in Iraq.
That we have one purpose and one purpose only in this country, and that is to keep Iraqis alive so that they themselves can create this civilian infrastructure that would allows us to get the heck out of there as fast as possible.
FOREMAN: One of the things I want to mention here, which is interesting. I know that not everybody here necessarily buys it, but there was a poll of Iraqi done by this group that does international polls, and they said that even though a great many Iraqis have trouble with what has happened since then, a year ago 77 percent said it was still worth it to get rid of Saddam Hussein. And to this day, 61 percent still say it -- obviously dropping radically though and fast. So we'll see if it keeps going that way.
But we're going to move on now to some other topics.
Of course, we have plenty to worry about within our own borders as well. Illegal immigration, inflamed opinions, coast to coast and border to border.
We will tell you why this flashpoint will almost certainly flair up again, when we return.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We speak English here.
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FOREMAN: The Minutemen are creating quite a stir on the borders and beyond as they wage their own private fight against illegal immigration.
Back when the original Minutemen roamed America in 1776, the entire country consisted of 13 colonies and 2.5 million people.
Last year 1.5 immigrants, legal and otherwise, mostly from Latin America, came to the U.S. to stay. No wonder immigration is a flashpoint.
FOREMAN (voice-over): Migrants, aliens, workers, criminals -- call them what you will. Immigrants were a flashpoint in 2006. They came by the millions, legally and illegally across American borders, often to do the jobs Americans can't or won't do, but igniting passions, nonetheless.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're not assembling to protect their rights, they are assembling to strip us of our rights.
FOREMAN: Illegal immigrants cost American taxpayers millions in social services. But some say the economy would crumble without them. With an estimated 11 million to 20 million of these folks already living in the United States and more on the way, it is a problem that is not going away.
Proposed solutions range from amnesty and open borders to jail and deportation. Politicians line up to chime in.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have to get control of our borders.
SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), NEW YORK: We will have immigration reform.
BUSH: What I'm telling you is that we're going to have a border that is smart and secure.
FOREMAN: But solutions remain elusive. An unfunded wall is in the works, but the flow of immigrants is unrelenting. Another flashpoint unresolved.
FOREMAN (on camera): It is easy to see why this resonated with Americans so much. Let's take a look at this map, showing the distribution of immigrants 10 years ago, the main states. And this is now. You can see how this has moved up into a good many more states than before. States that never saw it before.
The biggest growth states, Colorado, all the way over here in Maryland, North Carolina, and down into Georgia.
Lewis, can or should these states do anything about this?
BLACK: Well, I've always been -- I'm kind of stunned with the 11 million -- it's 11 million...
FOREMAN: 11 million to 20 million.
BLACK: Well, then the solution being, gather them up. That would mean we would have to stop everything. We'd have to literally show ends. Every American can't do a job. And we'd have to go off in search for illegal immigrants.
FOREMAN: You're saying that physically it's impossible?
BLACK: When people start talking the way they have been talking about the, you know, we have to gather them all up and that amnesty won't work, well you got no other choice. Okay? Because you can't gather up -- you -- everybody has to stop. The kids, little kids have to chase little illegal immigrants. Nobody goes to school. College kids don't do anything, send them into the street.
FOREMAN: What about stopping the flow of more people into this country? Arianna, can we?
HUFFINGTON: First of all, as an immigrant to this country, you know, this accent is for real. I didn't make it up to appear to be an ethnic minority. I have a special feeling for what immigrants have brought to this country. And the kind of rhetoric that Lewis has been talking about has been incredibly damaging to us as a country.
FOREMAN: That's understandable, but look at...
HUFFINGTON: Going forward -- let me just say, going forward, we need to look at why are they coming here and what can we do about the employers who are hiring them illegally.
FOREMAN: Let's get to that, but let's look at the volume first that we're talking about. Compared -- these are the top five countries in the world for doing this. France, over here, for the number of immigrants living in them. Above France we have, I believe it's -- the Ukraine is next. Above that is Germany and then Russia. But by comparison, look at the United States. More than 35 million people coming here. Is that not a problem, Wade?
DAVIS: What are you defining by immigrants? That map of America should be completely colored, because we are all immigrants.
FOREMAN: Yes, but that could be said of everybody in the world is not living in Africa, right?
FOREMAN: You know what we're talking -- we're talking about modern immigrants, people who are coming now, and there is some difference, isn't there, because of the speed at which people can move.
DAVIS: No, I think there is a much bigger demographic issue than this that people don't -- aren't aware of. This year, for the first time in human history, the majority of the human species will live in cities. The first city of 1 million people was London...
DAVIS: Now there are 414 cities with millions...
FOREMAN: Let's talk about that consolidation of people. We're all aware of the riots that followed the cartoons in Denmark this year of the prophet Mohammed. Lots of problems there. But people in Denmark, very liberal people and a liberal country are concerned that in some ways they feel like their country is being overrun by Muslims who are moving there who are saying we want health care, we want police protection, we want education, we want everything but -- by the way, we have no interest in being Danes.
If we have to respect other cultures, how much do they have to respect the nations that host them by first respecting their laws; and secondly, by accepting the assimilation that those countries need.
ASLAN: First of all, it's an absurd exaggeration to say that 800,000 Muslim immigrants in Denmark have no interest in being Danes or in reconciling their faith and their values with Danish traditions. Yes, there are extremists in that region. Yes, they do want to sort of carve their own little ethnic communities. But they in no way represent the majority of the immigrants in that region. In any case, we are not talking about Denmark, we're talking about America...
FOREMAN: Well, let's talk about America.
ASLAN: ... and in the United States, that's not a problem.
FOREMAN: What can we expect -- this is a problem. If people are coming across the border illegally -- we have plenty of law violation in this country, but by and large, we consider ourselves a country that teaches our children you obey the law. Isn't that rejecting the culture of America to say, we'll start by coming in illegally?
HUFFINGTON: But you know what is amazing about that is that right here in America, these people are getting jobs by American corporations. I mean, they are not just getting jobs by -- from other illegal immigrants. So this is really the center hypocrisy...
HUFFINGTON: ... of the immigration debate. The central hypocrisy that needs to be addressed and is not being addressed because these are major campaign contributors to the Republican Party, and the Republican Party paid a heavy price in the last election. They lost a lot of the Hispanic Latino vote. And many are saying that that's one of the reasons why they lost so many seats in Congress.
FOREMAN: But do you see -- do you see any way that we move forward on this issue? Because there is this concern that any community around the world...
HUFFINGTON: But here's the way...
HUFFINGTON: In order to move forward, we need to address the large economic problems that this country is facing. I mean, we have college graduates now who are seeing a drop in wages and salaries -- 5 percent drop, who have a negative savings rate, who have major economic problems that we need to address. And they cannot be addressed simply by scapegoating immigrants.
DAVIS: The real question for all of us is how are we going to find a way to live in multicultural, pluralistic societies? You can't fence out the world.
FOREMAN: Well, that's exactly what our next one is about. Clash of cultures. Coming up, the barrels have been lowered on another border, but the bullets remain at the ready. Why a distant war that seemingly has nothing to do with America may have everything to do with future flashpoints, even here at home. Stay with us.
FOREMAN: Forty miles of border on the other side of the world were undeniably a flashpoint this year. Of course, we are talking about the dividing line between Israel and Lebanon. But was this a flashpoint for the United States?
Many Americans would likely say no. However, ask the same question in the Middle East and you may get an emphatic yes.
FOREMAN (voice-over): The Lebanese/Israeli border became a flashpoint in July when Hezbollah fighters kidnapped two Israeli soldiers and Israel hit back.
Israeli air strikes and artillery blasts reigned down on Lebanon and its capital, Beirut. Lebanese Hezbollah fighters responded with rockets. Striking deep into northern Israel.
But this war was about more than the fate of two soldiers. For Israel, it was a chance to cripple Hezbollah.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... determined to carry on the fight against Hezbollah.
FOREMAN: For Hezbollah, a chance to rally against its enemy, Israel.
Outsiders chose sides. The U.S., its long-time ally.
BUSH: Israel has the right to defend herself.
FOREMAN: And most of the Middle East lined up against the Jewish state.
It ended as suddenly as it began. Hezbollah was still standing defiant. The two Israeli soldiers are still missing. Both sides claimed victory, but the only real result was more tension in the Middle East.
FOREMAN (on camera): Now, many Americans, I think, were delighted that we didn't get directly involved in this whole issue over here. Its long-time ally, but they felt like they really didn't want to get involved. And yet, many of the places around there, the countries all around Israel say the U.S. was involved de facto because of all the years of support for Israel.
Reza, is that fair? Is that right?
ASLAN: Of course it's right. Not only were we involved, we -- I mean, forget about the fact that it was our weapons that were being used by the Israeli military to defend itself. But over and beyond that, there is not a place in this region in which the U.S. does not have a footprint.
We have so many interests, economic, political, strategic interests in -- throughout the Middle East, particularly with our relations with Israel, that it's impossible to avoid us in any way. And this war is a perfect example of that.
I want to take a little umbrage with what was just said in that little piece, that the Middle East immediately rallied to Lebanon against Israel. That's not true. Large parts of the Middle East actually blamed Hezbollah for the war, until the war got out of control, until only one country on this planet refused to call for a cease-fire, and that's the United States. Until it became 30 days of bombing of an entire country, then sentiment went against Israel.
So, you know, it's important to understand that the -- that our interests in that region and the way that we pursue those interests do have ripples throughout this entire region.
FOREMAN: Let me ask you something about the current situation here right now. Things have become so bitter there with so many players. I mean, there's a whole question of who was getting the funds to Hezbollah here through Syria or Iran or whatever. Is it possible, as we try to move through this next year, can you be friends of one side and of the other? Is it possible? Or do you have -- does the United States have to choose sides, end of story?
HUFFINGTON: Well, of course not. That's where diplomacy comes into it. That's why we've had the Iraq Study Group say that we have to open discussions with Syria and Iran.
FOREMAN: Well, the Iraq Study Group says we can't solve Iraq over here if we don't start solving...
BLACK: I absolutely buy that. this is also interrelated -- it just defies description that you wouldn't be discussing -- you got to be, you know -- if you are not going to believe in the United Nations, which we don't on a lot of levels, then you have to -- you kind of -- then you know what? You got to do it on your own. And you have to go and deal with it.
And I think something that truly upset me about what happened here, and the lack of our response was that they are firing American missiles at Beirut and there are Americans there. And at no point does our president kind of go, hey, guys, come here, come here, you can't be shooting that stuff at them.
FOREMAN: To some degree, wait a minute, doesn't America wind up a little bit damned if they do, damned if they don't? We're told, you have to be involved, you have to help this region. Many Americans felt like when we went into Iraq, they didn't understand everything is a notion of OK, we're doing something over there. And that hasn't worked out. How do we move forward? What can we agree at?
HUFFINGTON: But let's remember...
HUFFINGTON: There is something -- there is something -- first of all, there is something very clear here that we need to confront. Remember, part of the rational for going to war in Iraq was that somehow this would make Israel safer, you know, that it would somehow democratize the Middle East. It would be easier for Israel to defend itself. Well, it's been the exact opposite.
We need to look at the unintended consequences. The unintended consequence of what Israel did was that Hezbollah is now strengthened. Hezbollah has emerged with more support from the people and more strength around the world. So what was the point of that?
FOREMAN: How do we move forward here then, though?
Very succinctly here, Wade, how do we move forward in this area where, you know, every president, Democrat, Republican, conservative, liberal has looked at this and they've tried things and it hasn't worked?
DAVIS: You know, it's an intractable problem. I mean, I've been with the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) on the West Bank and moved in the desert from Jordan with them. I've gone over the Israeli border and actually been on the rubble of their homes that were destroyed in the memory of their grandparents. Remember, this started in 1948.
FOREMAN: Can they be brought beyond all those years? We all know the history, it's very complex. Can we move forward in 2007 on this?
ASLAN: Yes. You know, in the '90s we used to say that the road to peace in the Middle East goes through Jerusalem. Nothing has changed. That's still the fact. And that's precisely because -- we talk about the Arab world as though there is something that the Arab world has in common with each other. They don't. They don't share the same culture. They barely share the same language. They barely share the same religion.
The only thing that they have in common with each other is anti- Israel sentiment. If we really want to create political and religious and economic and social reform in the Arab world, then we need to remove this crutch, this crutch of Palestinian intifada (ph) propaganda.
FOREMAN: Which is the whole question of the Palestinians get their own territory, it finally gets settled and then we move on beyond that?
ASLAN: It has to be not just their own territory, but it has to be a viable and stable and secure state alongside Israel.
FOREMAN: And the tradeoff for that, of course, for the Israelis is to say, we need a promise from the Arab world that we are going to say now Israel stays...
ASLAN: That promise has been offered already in the accords offered by Saudi Arabia...
FOREMAN: If we see progress in 2007, it'd be great.
We're going to have to move on to our next subject here, but if we see progress in this region, it will make it a huge landmark here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wait, we didn't solve the Israel-Palestinian crisis?
FOREMAN: We didn't entirely solve it, but we're close.
Many Americans, of course say, they simply want nothing to do with all of these distant entanglements and age-old flashpoints. The question is, can we avoid them even if we try? And will it make us any safer? That, when we come back.
FOREMAN: Historians have long argued that the two greatest military allies of America have been the Pacific and the Atlantic oceans. For hundreds of years only great militaries had even a hope of mounting an attack on American shores. And even if they made it, look at the vast amount of land they would have had to subdue. But technology, communications and travel have made the oceans much smaller.
Since 9/11, the threat of an attack on the U.S. or its allies from any number of enemies has been constantly with us.
FOREMAN (voice-over): Call it the year of the near miss. Alleged terror plots foiled in the U.K., Canada, and even here in the United States.
Another year come and gone without an attack on American soil, but flashpoints erupting around the world.
Terror attacks remain a daily occurrence in Iraq.
In Iran, a defiant leader taunts the West and threatens Israel with its nuclear program.
And Muslims, angered by Danish cartoons featuring images of the Prophet Mohammed erupt.
North Korea's Kim Jong-il is rattling sabers, launching missiles and testing nukes.
An ocean away in south America, anti-U.S. leftists are sweeping into power. Evo Morales of Bolivia and Hugo Chavez of Venezuela lead the charge.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You are going to live the rest of your days as a nightmare.
FOREMAN: And more than five years after September 11th, al Qaeda Leader Osama bin Laden remains at large.
FOREMAN (on camera): A nation at war. It doesn't feel much that way sometimes. Is that because we are safer? We were never that much in danger? We've grown used to the threat?
BLACK: Well, I don't know if what we are doing makes any sense to me at all. Our response to secure our borders from the very beginning -- when I looked out my window 9/11 and I was at home in New York and all I thought -- and I find this in retrospect astonishing. I said, this will allow us to go back to a time that I thought we had left forever.
FOREMAN: What time is that?
BLACK: The 1950s, which is essentially where our mentality is back to if it's not -- if it's not...
FOREMAN: You mean...
(CROSSTALK) FOREMAN: This fear that there's a great enemy out there.
BLACK: Yes. And now (UNINTELLIGIBLE) because there's no -- they can't put a finger on it, so it's even better.
FOREMAN: Do you think there is such an enemy?
DAVIS: A great leader does not blow the flames of fear. A great leader like Roosevelt, when the country at 25 percent unemployment said there's nothing to fear but fear itself. Lincoln, when the country's on the precipice of a civil war said, let's seek the better angels of our nation.
This administration began after 9/11 by declaring war on a technique. You can't win a war on a technique anymore than you can win a war on evil.
FOREMAN: Do you think that Homeland Security made us more secure or more afraid? And again...
FOREMAN: How do we move forward?
HUFFINGTON: The Homeland Security is the most neglected area right now. I mean, even in the last Congress, there was an amendment to introduce just over $1 billion the get more radiation monitors, to inspect more containers, you know, very common sense, practical things. And that amendment did not pass because so many of us...
FOREMAN: Well, wait a minute. Lewis, do you buy that we even need that?
BLACK: Well, I think -- I just think we got to look at it again. Because we dumped the money into certain things. You don't look at people's shoes, OK? At an airport. You don't do it.
When we were in that last segment, I was going to tell you. It's more insane that these guys -- what's the last place you look at somebody? At his feet? At her feet? Is that where the problem is going to be? One guy, one man blows up something or tries to make that attempt, a guy who basically they probably should have given a skin cancer test to because he had so many moles on his face. They don't -- one. And now every human being who travels to America takes their shoes off? Do you really think it's going to happen that way?
Our response to stuff is so stupid. They are -- look, first off, there are not a billion people out there waiting to blow us up. And you can't live like that.
DAVIS: But can you imagine what would have happened if President Bush, after 9/11 had said, my friends, this is terrible, but we are a strong country. In September 1862 we lost 22,000 men at Antietam. At Normandy Beach we lost 6,000. We are the most powerful country, economically, socially, politically since Rome. Stuff is going to happen to us. But you know what? We're not going to panic, because if we panic...
FOREMAN: I understand. But look at this -- but look at our world right now. This is the world we live in right now.
We've got Chavez rattling the saber down here. We have real problems in Africa. We're barely able to talk about Ahmadinejad over here. Kim Jong-il, this guy, who is showing up everywhere.
HUFFINGTON: But this is really -- that's really the whole point.
HUFFINGTON: The opportunist costs of what we're doing in Iraq is the negligent of all these other flashpoints around the world. And that's why it is imperative...
FOREMAN: Let me get to Iran, because you have been looking at that particularly right now. Ahmadinejad has been making a lot of noise out there, but they just had elections.
ASLAN: Yes, Ahmadinejad can make as much noise as he wants to. This is a man who doesn't have a single word to say about either the Iranian nuclear program or about any aspect of foreign policy. It's one of the sort of the strange things about Iran that the democratically-elected president has not a single policy decision to make, barely any kind of effect on domestic policy and zero effect on foreign policy. And yet -- this is the thing that I find fascinating. You know, Ahmadinejad's predecessor, Mohamed Khatami, was a liberal, fairly secularized, very pro-Western, very moderate leader who repeatedly reached out to West and was rebuffed because, why? Because the president of Iran doesn't have any power, so what's the use of actually reaching out to him.
This is the same president -- it's another president, and suddenly, he is now this Hitler-type character who controls Iranian policy? It's absurd.
FOREMAN: Well, let me ask you this. We look at Iran. We look at these places around the world. 9/11 scared a lot of us in a lot of ways. How do we reasonably -- we're five years down the road now, how do we reasonably process that and be concerned about our security in the right way.
HUFFINGTON: Well, let's remember -- let's remember 9/11. You know, as you said, it was one of the scariest days in our history. But at the same time, it was the day that brought the best out in the American people. So how can we capture that? How can we capture that sense of a collective purpose moving forward? You know, even the president has called us into some great collective undertaking, energy independence. Something that can actually make us more secure in real terms as opposed to in imaginary terms of pursuing the wrong enemy.
FOREMAN: So it's a question of leadership here and all around the world. Look at this, our nation has produced many, many great leaders -- Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, Roosevelt -- Pelosi?
This is sort of the question that we are asking right now. We've always produced great heroes in this country at times of crisis. And maybe we are doing that right now. But voters don't expect much heroism out of Washington. Who might turn that around and how, when we come back.
FOREMAN: So here we are at the start of a new year, facing all these flashpoints. And many Americans are wondering if anyone in Washington has the right stuff anymore.
It doesn't look good for the president. His support is stunningly low in the latest polls. And already the presidential wannabes, could bes and maybes are lining up to grab his job in 2008.
It has been said in America, anyone can grow up to be president. It's just a chance you have to take.
FOREMAN (voice-over): They say all politics are local, but in 2006 all politics were global. Flashpoints around the world came home to American voters.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) voted against the war. And he wants to start bringing our troops home next year.
FOREMAN: Iraq, terrorism, immigration -- all high on voters' minds. They came to the polls in biggest numbers in decades, looking for change.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Throw the old guys and you bring new people in.
FOREMAN: And they got it. The Democrats swept to power in the House and Senate.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), CA: The campaign is over. Democrats are ready to lead.
FOREMAN: In the end, an unpopular war and an unpopular president were too much for Republican candidates to overcome.
Ethics concerns and scandals sealed the deal. But the changes voters are looking for are far from certain. The Democrats have a full agenda in front of them and no consensus on how to move forward.
Between the Dems and success sits a president with a veto pass and a legacy to secure.
FOREMAN (on camera): It just seems a terrible thing that the nation would face all these flashpoints at time when our confidence in people in Washington is so low.
Do any of you feel that either party is really ready to engage all of these issues?
HUFFINGTON: I think right now it's a question of their appreciation of the current administration, which was complete in 2006, especially around Iraq. I mean, it was Iraq, Iraq, Iraq that determined the '06 election.
So going forward, the test for Nancy Pelosi and the democratic leadership is going to be, are they going to deliver on Iraq? Have they really listened to what the public clearly stated in '06?
FOREMAN: Do you have any faith that that will happen?
HUFFINGTON: Well, we saw Harry Reid coming out against any increase in troops, which is -- sounds like an insane policy right now. But nevertheless, John McCain and the president, contrary to what the Iraq Study Group advocated, want to contemplate the possibility of bringing more troops into Iraq. Well, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi have clearly said no. That's a good step. Let's see what happens.
FOREMAN: All right. Let me ask this, though, Lewis, you hear this. You're out there among people in the countries you travel. You buying it?
BLACK: I don't think anyone out there -- I think the American public, at least the folks who come to see me, and I -- and it's more of kind of a cross section than anybody realizes in that they are -- I don't think they feel faith in either party. I think it's -- it's stunning at times to me that we have -- that just there's no sense of the -- it is just like hopelessness in terms of like, you know, it's almost like, OK, there is nothing we can do.
FOREMAN: Washington, just leave us alone, if you would?
DAVIS: I think in this wonderful country's history great figures have always come out in times of crisis -- Roosevelt, Lincoln. We will find another one.
FOREMAN: Good point. Without names, what kind of person do we need right now? Look at this. This is the map from that election. Yes, there's some blue and yes, there's some red, but really, in many, many places, you've got a lot of...
BLACK: Santa Claus. Santa Claus, Santa Claus.
DAVIS: What's the Santa Claus part?
BLACK: He runs.
BLACK: Look at the map. Don't go -- don't go serious on me right now. Getting it, Santa Claus wins.
HUFFINGTON: OK, here's the thing.
BLACK: Ho, ho, ho. Same answer every time. Same answer we get out of the people who really -- the guys who have to run for president, whoever it is, has to be able to speak English directly to people. And it's been a morass of people who...
HUFFINGTON: When in fact, that's what you see on this map. What you see on this map is that the idea that we are a red and blue country -- and these are the sort of incredible divisions, is just not true.
FOREMAN: Look, let me ask you this, Reza. I think you've got a lot of, lot of, lot of people in this country who really, in these recent elections, I think one of the reasons it was so close is because people are kind of rejecting both parties. They're saying give us somebody we can believe in. And they are very disappointed. Do you think that's fair?
ASLAN: It's not so much give us somebody we can believe in, it's give us somebody we can believe, period.
Look, you know, all of those people that you put up there, there is nothing extraordinary about Lincoln or about Jefferson or even about Washington. They weren't heroes who were then put into a position in which they were then given the opportunity to make correct decisions. They were heroes because they made correct decisions.
What we need is someone who actually takes what is going on right now in the world, in the Middle East, the conflicts that we are seeing between the Western world and the Muslim world, the conflicts taking place within the Muslim world, itself. And rather than throwing some huge umbrella over it all, giving it a funny little catch phrase like Islamofascism and pretending that somehow we are facing some kind of unified enemy, that this is some kind of war for civilization itself.
Let's understand -- the American people are a lot more sophisticated than politicians think they are. Let's just sit down and say exactly what's going on. And the fact that these little conflicts, these little issues are going to require different answers, different solutions.
FOREMAN: Can we quiet down -- can we quiet down the heat, though, here between the far left and the far right, because they are so loud these days.
HUFFINGTON: This is not the problem. The problem is not between the far left and the far right. The problem is that so-called centrist leaders, as well as mostly everybody else, are not telling the American people the truth. That they are triangulating, calculating. They are not being authentic. It's exactly what Reza said. We want somebody we believe, that when they tell us something, that it's true.
When the president of the United States keeps insisting that we are winning, or maybe winning and losing, but we're definitely not losing.
When you have so many Democratic leaders who went along voting for the war, who are still not calling for the troops to come home because their bosses are telling them this is not the way to go. That's really the breakdown of trust.
FOREMAN: Wade, jump in...
DAVIS: Authenticity is the key thing. I mean, the president comes along and says that they have distinction between red and blue states as we've seen in our history going to win.
FOREMAN: That's going to take some courage. And let's hope in this coming year that one of the parties or something in between produces some of it.
Stay put. In just a moment, the single flashpoint that will matter most to you and yours.
(BEGIN BREAKING NEWS)
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good evening. I'm Anderson Cooper. We have breaking news. The "Associated Press" is reporting that Penny Circle, chief of staff and executive assistant of former President Gerald Ford -- actually Betty Ford, according to the Associated Press, Betty Ford has announced that Gerald R. Ford has died. Gerald Ford was 93.
And Mr. Ford, the former president, was the only person to serve as both president and vice president of the U.S., who was never elected to either office.
Richard Nixon named him as vice president in 1973 when Spiro Agnew resigned amid allegations of tax evasion and corruption. A year later, in the aftermath of the Watergate scandal, Ford succeeded Nixon when Nixon resigned.
A month after taking the oath of office, Gerald Ford pardoned Richard Nixon, of course. Mr. Ford was front and center at one of America's lowest moments. He saw the country through it.
And in the days ahead, in a very carefully mapped out set of ceremonies, the country will say thank you.
Right now we look back at his extraordinary life.
GERALD R. FORD, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I, Gerald R. Ford, do solemnly swear...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That I will faithfully execute...
FORD: That I will faithfully execute...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The office of president of the United States...
FORD: The office of president of the United States...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So help me God.
FORD: So help me God.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Congratulations, Mr. President.
COOPER (voice-over): Very few presidents came into office with such a built-in reservoir of American goodwill.
FORD: My fellow Americans, our long national nightmare is over.
COOPER: Gerald Ford was a largely unknown Midwestern Congressman, despite his quarter of a century in the House of Representatives.
He was elevated to the vice presidency in 1973, when Spiro Agnew resigned to avoid indictment on charges of bribery and income tax evasion. And he became president, of course, a year later after Richard Nixon's resignation.
FORD: I expect to follow my instincts of openness and candor with full confidence that honesty is always the best policy.
COOPER: He became the first appointed vice president to move into the White House, acutely aware that he had not been elected to the job. He knew he had to restore trust and public confidence in the presidency.
Yet, he did not hesitate to grant a full pardon to Mr. Nixon after only a month in office. He did it, he said, to put Watergate behind the nation once and for all.
FORD: Some people never have nor will they ever forgive me for pardoning Mr. Nixon. Again, I repeat, I thought it was right, and I believe it today even more so.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because of that decision, which was differed with by great numbers of Americans, including myself, America was able to heal itself and move back on a path of reconciliation.
COOPER: Gerald Ford was an American success story, a good college football player at the University of Michigan. Athletic and physically skilled, despite what comedians said about him a half century later.
He was in the Navy during World War II and was elected to Congress from Grand Rapids one month after becoming married to the former Betty Warren.
Once in the House of Representatives, he slowly inched up the ladder and became a Republican leader in a time when political differences did not blossom into personal enmity.
FORD: Tip O'Neill and I were strong adversaries, and we used to debate on the floor of the House many times, because of his job and my job. But when we were through, we'd go out and have a beer together.
COOPER: As president, Mr. Ford was beset by high inflation and there were two assassination attempts against him in 1975. One shot missed him by only a few feet. Two women were ultimately arrested and jailed. He won the Republican presidential nomination in 1976. Robert Dole of Kansas was his running mate. Although he campaigned with vigor, most remembered a single remark during a debate with Jimmy Carter.
FORD: I don't believe that the polls consider themselves be dominated by the Soviet Union.
COOPER: In an election that was close, it may well have been a pivotal moment. He lost to Mr. Carter, who was gracious at what must have been a sour moment for Gerald Ford.
JIMMY CARTER, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I want to thank my predecessor for all he has done to heal our lands.
COOPER: After his defeat, Gerald Ford kept largely out of the public eye. His name briefly emerged as a possible vice presidential candidate when Ronald Reagan won the presidential nomination in 1980. But Mr. Ford wound up spending a lot of time in southern California, not far from Palm Springs. Not regretting for a moment, he said, what he had done in his 29 months in office.
FORD: I had to move forward and heal the wounds of Watergate and the tragedy of Vietnam. And I think by moving forward, doing something courageous, even if unpopular, gave some spirit and a new attitude on the part of the American people.
COOPER: Well, if you are just joining us, the Former First Lady Betty Ford has told the Associated Press that her husband, President Gerald Ford has died.
Gerald Ford has struggled with his health in recent years. He was hospitalized several times in the past year alone. In August he underwent heart procedures at the Mayo Clinic. He received a cardiac pacemaker to regulate his heartbeat and also underwent angioplasty. As recently as October, he was unable to attend the dedication of the new building that houses the Ford School of Public Policy and his alma mater, the University of Michigan.
We have a number of people joining us on the phone. Joining me right now on the phone is CNN's Senior Analyst Jeff Greenfield.
Jeff, your thoughts on the passing of President Ford?
JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SENIOR ANALYST: I think even though he was president for, as you pointed out, just 29 months, there are a number of really significant aspects to Jerry Ford and the shaping of modern political history.
First, had he not become vice president, it's very unlikely that Richard Nixon would have been forced out of the presidency. Because his predecessor Spiro Agnew was such a polarizing figure that it is almost unimaginable that the Democratic Congress would have wanted to replace Nixon with Agnew.
But once Agnew was forced out, as you pointed out in that piece because of bribery and income tax evasion charges, Jerry Ford was very well liked by both sides of the aisle, became vice president, and it made it much more possible for the pursuit of Richard Nixon to proceed for the House Judiciary Committee to impeach him and then essentially force his resignation.
The second thing is that Jerry Ford probably may be the last, for the foreseeable future, or at least for the 25 years since, was the last moderate Republican. He was pro choice. He was pro equal rights amendment. He came the closest of any president in history to be denied renomination in 1976. Ronald Reagan almost defeated him for that primary. And Reagan's conquest in 1980 really marked the end of moderate Republicans as the central force in the Republican Party.
And I think that the third thing that we really have to remember is that his pardon of Richard Nixon probably did cost him the presidency. It was a very close election in 1976. A few states made the difference -- Mississippi and Ohio, very close. And Ford's first month in office was surrounded by an incredible aura of goodwill because the Watergate experience had ended.
He was a very down to earth fellow. Much was made of the fact that he sort of toasted his own English muffins. He was not an imperial president. And the pardon really hurt Ford politically, but it was the Robert Kennedy memorial. We heard Ted Kennedy, in your piece, say that this was and act -- he won the profiles in courage award because he probably did sacrifice the presidency to say we can't go through this any longer.
And so, for someone who is in fact appointed to the vice presidency, the only president we have ever had never elected by a national vote, either as president or vice president, he made quite a difference. Many things happened on his watch.
COOPER: He also was an unexpected president. I mean, many of the things throughout his life it seemed, he was sort of underestimated or unexpected. He did the unexpected when he left University of Michigan. He had two offers to play professional football. Instead, he went to Yale, where he was an assistant coach, also finished up law school.
When he was vice president, when he was appointed vice president, he said he had no intention of running in '76 as president or vice president or anything else. And yet, that is what he did.
GREENFIELD: Yes, and I think one of the things about Gerald Ford is that he was probably one of the most -- how shall I put this -- normal people ever to assume the presidency. I mean, most presidents, when they seek that office, there is a kind of larger than life aspect, the hunger either for power to do good or power for its own sake, is a very strong theme.
And because Gerald Ford was never elected by any constituency bigger than Grand Rapids, Michigan, he had an incredible down-to-earth quality while he was president, after he was president, that whole -- you never sort of heard "hail to the chief" being played because he was very much an everyman.
And also he -- he kind of suffered politically because of that. Because he was a very -- it's unimaginable that Jerry Ford would have had an enemies list, for instance.
I think the fact that he was so approachable made him seem more like an ordinary, the kind of guy you'd meet on Main Street in a Midwestern town, rather than some grandiose figure.
GREENFIELD: And it was something that people really wanted after Watergate, but it probably also was something...
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